Michelle is falling in love with all three remaining men, so how can she decide who to send home? Does a last-minute Hail Mary before the Rose Ceremony make a difference?
We are just one week away from "The Bachelorette" season finale. Tonight is Fantasy Suites -- and all that entails -- and Michelle Young's toughest decision yet as she whittles down her remaining guys to just two.
She said she was hoping for clarity with these three intimate dates without cameras to help her make such an impossible decision. How do you decide who to send home if you're catching feelings for everyone?
Meanwhile, the guys were stewing in their own juices during the dates. Producers clearly forced the two guys not on each date to spend time talking about how it made them feel to know their girl was out with another guy.
They got good material from Brandon, in particular, who was stewing in insecurity after going first on his One-on-One, while Nayte was giving them absolutely nothing to work with. Always chill, he said that it's not something he can control, so he doesn't think much about it.
Stoic Joe is stewing just a bit, but he's not one to emote or project or hardly say anything ever at all to anyone about anything. So he did a lot of that in those moments. In fact, Joe's closed-book personality was one of the things Michelle was hoping she could crack open.
From the beginning, Michelle and Brandon have had an ease in their relationship. Like Rodney, it's filled with laughter, but it also has genuine heart and some surprising depth. Brandon at times seems very young, but he's got a little more going on there than just that.
It was a lot of fun seeing him embracing this new experience in Mexico, jumping on a horse with confidence for his first time ever -- and then promptly having absolutely no control of where the horse is going nor having any idea how to stop it.
Brandon is just all in with everything he does, including expressing his feelings for Michelle. He definitely feels deeply for him, but he seems to struggle more than his compatriots with confidence that she feels the same way.
Granted, at this point it almost doesn't matter if she does. Someone has to go regardless how Michelle feels about them.
Once again, the morning after their Fantasy Suite, we got to see their playful side as an impromptu food fight broke out in bed. We feel sorry for the cleaning staff that has to deal with their recklessness, but there was a youthful innocence to that moment that exemplifies that innocence Brandon seems to possess.
It gives him a purity of character that has him stand apart from the others. He seems genuine in all that he does, earnest and filled with an eagerness to please and to be loved, for better or worse.
Joe has those deep penetrating eyes, and sometimes that's about all you're gonna get from Joe. When Michelle took him zip-lining, she was stunned when he started screaming as they tore through the jungle. We think he might have been surprised, too.
It's remarkable how stoic he is for someone who got cast on a reality television show. He's dripping with sincerity but he gives you almost nothing to work with. If he wasn't so good-looking and if he didn't have that weird not-quite-dating past with Michelle, we're not sure he would have made it.
His introverted, quiet personality is definitely a challenge for Michelle who is very outspoken and outgoing. But the biggest challenge for her is how Joe has moved at a different pace than the others, one positively glacial by Bachelor Nation standards.
What she needed from him was clarity of feelings -- both hers for him and definitely his for her. She was basically looking for a reason to send him home, and instead he gave her all the reasons to keep him by really opening up and being in the moment with her.
The two have always had that shared connection of basketball and Minneapolis, but is that enough to build a relationship on? Can Michelle really get into this deeply quiet young man, even if he does feel like home in so many ways? It's definitely biggest mismatch on paper.
As for Nayte, Michelle's biggest question is if he's even ready for this. Conversations with his family, who have serious doubts about his readiness, still linger in the corners of her mind. She confessed as much to him during the evening portion of their boating date.
The truth is that this is all new for him. He admits he's never been in love, never had strong feelings like this for a woman. Was he too focused on other things, or just playing the field, keeping things light? If so, Michelle has valid concerns that maybe he's not ready to level up his relationships.
At the same time, she uses language when talking about him -- and has for weeks -- that she uses for no one else. She uses language that says she's picked her winner and it is Nayte. He seems to share her confidence that he's her guy, they just have to get through this pesky show before they can make it official.
Her uncertainty with Nayte came with whether or not he was falling in love with her -- he'd yet to say as much -- and whether or not he was ready to take the kind of step an engagement means.
She challenged him at dinner to talk about it, and he admitted he was falling in love with her. By the next morning, he'd updated that to he's in love with her, full stop. Does he know what that means? Does he know that's what he's feeling? Certainly it appears to be what Michelle is feeling, and has been for Nayte for weeks now.
He's pretty much her guy. So this is his to blow for himself.
Right before Michelle started calling out names, Brandon stepped forward and asked if they could talk. He wasn't going to quit the show as we've seen in the past, nor was he begging for her to keep him. Instead, he was basically checking in.
As he'd had the first Fantasy Suite of the week, it came across to us like someone deeply insecure and worried about their status. He told her that no matter what she chooses, he'll be in her corner and he'll be there for her, like a BFF.
But was it a ploy, just in case she was considering cutting him loose? We may never know because she didn't cut him loose. Instead, it was the final moment for quiet Joe, who remained pretty quiet until he was alone in the limo.
He must have been building those walls to protect his heart and feelings almost immediately, a mask of stoicism even as Michelle walked him out and talked to him through her own tears about how he's such a great guy, she just isn't his person.
In the limo, Joe finally broke down and let his emotions out. It's a shame this is how men are trained and raised to deal with their emotions, in private as if they are something to be ashamed of. Or perhaps he was trying to be strong for her, to make the decision easier for her by not showing how destroyed he was.
Did Brandon's final message of support sway her his way? Does it even matter? Right now, based on Michelle basically describing him as her soulmate, this looks like it's his to lose. Teasers for next week make it look like his mom's going to do her best to make sure he does.
So what is the ending we won't believe? Usually when they say that on this show, it's exactly the ending we will believe. So we suspect it will be a lot of misdirection, and then Nayte in the end.
“Really pay attention to those fears. Because I wish I did that more.” --Kaitlyn (advice for Michelle)
“We kind of went from bros to foes and, like, it is awkward. Very awkward.” --Joe (about changing dynamic among guys)
“Seeing Brandon go off on a date with the person I’m falling in love with is a little tough. There’s a lot of emotion.” --Joe
“I’m crazy about this woman … I’m ready to ride off into the sunset.” --Brandon
“This was supposed to be a date with the couple.” --Michelle (watching Brandon’s horse leave her behind)
“It’s definitely weird that whatever date they’re on could lead to overnights. --Joe (to Nayte during Brandon’s date)
“I don’t know, like it’s weird, but at the same time, I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve been thinking about, like, looking forward to my time, you know? You gotta just focus on yourself, really. That’s why it is weird, but I can’t say that it’s hard.” --Nayte
“I’m so excited for tonight. I can’t wait to literally rip out my heart and throw it on the table and say, ‘Just do what you want with it, ‘cause It only beats for you at this point.” --Brandon (during One-on-One)
“I am in love with you.” --Brandon (to Michelle)
“I am falling in love with you. That’s not something I say lightly. It’s not something I feel easily.” --Michelle (to Brandon)
“It wasn’t until tonight that I stopped and realized, oh, I’m literally not the only one, like, literally catching feelings for Michelle. Tonight was the reality check.” --Nayte (seeing literal fireworks for Brandon’s Overnight)
“This is just awkward.” --Brandon
“How was your night?” --Joe
“I’m not gonna tell you details about what happened. I’m not gonna tell you anything about yesterday. I went on a date.” --Brandon
“Seeing Joe leave, it’s hard … it sucks. I mean, it’s like torture. I’m trying to stay optimistic, but it’s hard.” --Brandon
“I hope today is that point where I can finally say that I’m falling in love with Joe as well.” --Michelle (ahead of One-on-One)
“I get to go into it naive, naive, this is what it’s like. You’re like, I know what it’s like. Damn, Joe’s now doing that. Damn, Nayte’s now doing that.” --Nayte (to Brandon during Joe’s One-on-One)
“I’m trying to find my life partner, and in 24 hours Joe has changed everything.” --Michelle (after Overnight)
“Kissing Nayte is magical and I’ve never had a feeling like when I kiss Nayte.” --Michelle
“This whole engagement thing is a week away and it’s important for me to know if he can get there.” --Michelle (about Nayte)
“In a perfect world, Nayte will say that tonight.” --Michelle (hoping Nyate will say he loves her)
“Falling in love is one thing. Being in love is another thing. And an engagement is another thing. Which of those are you ready for?” --Michelle (to Nayte)
“I mean, all three. You know, falling in love, being in love, loving you. There’s something about you that I am very certain about.” --Nayte
“Falling in love with you, I am in love with you. This is what I want.” --Nayte (after Overnight)
“So Nayte is in love?” --Michelle
“Nayte is in love.” --Nayte
“Um, I am definitely in love with you, too.” --Michelle
“I firmly believe that this is what a soulmate feels like.” --Michelle
“I’ve now fallen in love with all three men that are here, which is something I didn’t think was possible.” --Michelle
It all wraps up next week on the two-hour "Bachelorette" finale, Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, followed immediately by the "After the Final Rose" special.